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"No fear. I'm not so fat as you!"
— James laughing at Gordon

Tenders and Turntables is the fifteenth episode of the first season. In the US, this episode aired on the Shining Time Station episodes Whistle While You Work and "Schemer's Robot".


Life has been harder at the yard since Thomas left to run his branch line. With no tank engine to shunt or fetch coaches for them, Henry, James, and Gordon must shunt in the sidings and fetch their own coaches which soon makes them very cross, causing Sir Topham Hatt a great deal of trouble. In addition, while Thomas, being a tank engine, does not need a turntable, the larger tender engines do, as it is dangerous for them to go backwards too fast.

One windy afternoon, Gordon arrives at the other end of the line with his train and heads for the turntable. The turntable is by the sea, so the wind is very strong and unless an engine is perfectly balanced on the turntable, it becomes difficult to turn. Gordon is in a bad mood and is unable to get perfectly balanced, and neither his driver nor fireman can get him to cooperate. After trying again and again, they give up and he is forced to pull his next train tender first.

When Gordon arrives at the junction, a group of boys joke around and taunt him by calling him a tank engine. Thomas, who is waiting at the junction, laughs and suggests that Gordon should "scrap his tender and get a nice bunker." James flies by with his train and laughs as well. Gordon warns James that he may also stick on the turntable, but he claims that he won't because he is "not so fat as him."

When James gets to the sheds; he carefully lines up on the turntable, allowing it to move very easily. But the strong wind has other ideas and begins to spin James around like a top. Gordon arrives just in time to see the whole thing. When the turntable finally stops spinning, James backs into the shed looking rather sick, dizzy and humiliated.

That night, Gordon, James, and Henry hold an indignation meeting. They decide it would be best, after the day's events, to go on strike.




  • This episode is based on the story of the same name from The Railway Series book, Troublesome Engines.
  • In the Railway Series, Henry has a mishap with a circus elephant and that, along with the problems in this episode, causes Gordon, Henry, and James to go on strike. In the television series, Henry's mishap does not occur until the fourth season.
  • A freeze frame is used when Thomas talks to Gordon about pulling his train backwards
  • In the George Carlin version and Japanese dub of this episode, James whistles after being spun on the turntable. This is absent in both Ringo Starr versions.
  • This episode may have been filmed alongside Thomas and the Breakdown Train, as Thomas can be seen in the yards in a behind the scene photo.


  • When the engines say, "We get no rest! We get no rest!", there is one orange coach behind Henry. But in the next scene when the coaches say, "You're lazy and slack! You're lazy and slack!" Henry is coupled up to three coaches.
  • When the narrator says, "The turntables at both ends of the line...", Henry is shunting the same coaches as he was when James came past shunting his.
  • James' brake coach is backwards when he rushes through Elsbridge.
  • In the close-up of James spinning on the turntable a crewmember's face is reflected in his paintwork.
  • When the turntable stops spinning it connects the last berth on the right, but when James reverses the turntable leads to the middle line.
  • When Thomas and Gordon are at Elsbridge, Clarabel is facing forwards.


  • Magazine Stories - Tenders and Turntables

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DVD Boxsets


DVD Boxsets